At about 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the loosely organized hacker collective Anonymous released a list of names it claims have ties to the Ku Klux Klan.
The release of the KKK list had been touted by the group previously and was released Thursday to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day, which Anonymous has adopted as a kind of holiday to promote their various causes.
Posted on Pastebin as part of the group’s OperationKKK and HoodsOff campaigns, a statement appeared above the list. It opens with a general overview of the KKK’s current organization and operations in the U.S. The group then outlines its larger hopes for this latest leak:
We hope Operation KKK will, in part, spark a bit of constructive dialogue about race, racism, racial terror and freedom of expression, across group lines. Public discourse about these topics can be honest, messy, snarky, offensive, humbling, infuriating, productive, and serious all at once. The reality is that racism usually does NOT wear a hood but it does permeate our culture on every level. Part of the reason we have taken the hoods off of these individuals is not because of their identities, but because of what their hoods symbolize to us in our broader society.
The posting then goes on to outline the methodology used to verify that the identities collected are connected to the KKK:
Data collected for Operation KKK was gathered over approximately 11 months and those included on this list were identified primarily through HUMINT (human intelligence) data collection strategies. This means that individuals on this list were often identified by human sources of information through both overt (interviewing expert sources) and covert (digital espionage / social engineering) methods. Individuals on our list were also identified through open source intelligence strategies (OSINT). This is a broad array of information and sources that are generally available to the public. This includes: multimedia, academic records and public data. Members often told on themselves to us about their connections with the KKK during various chat conversations we had with klan members and affiliates throughout the course of our operation. You never know who you are talking to on the internet.
The list then begins with social media groups, mainly on Google+ but also on Facebook, said to be affiliated with the KKK. Next comes a list of names, in alphabetical order by first name, coupled with URLs to social media and other accounts in most cases. The list ends with a collection of active KKK groups in alphabetical order by state.
Oklahoma does not appear anywhere on the list, but Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas do.
Despite absence on list, KKK active in Okla.
The Operation KKK list lacks specific mention or reference to Oklahoma, which is likely a relief to some. Likewise, the Southern Poverty Law Center has a map of active hate groups that lacks any listing of full-blown KKK groups in Oklahoma. Despite these omissions, evidence exists that indicates the Klan is indeed active in the Sooner State.
In June, The Times out of Pryor Creek reported flyers had appeared in town seeking recruitment to a local chapter (or klavern) of the KKK. The same group had launched a previous flyer campaign during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend of that year.
And going back even further, a book by Charles C. Alexander outlines in great detail the KKK’s political and social influence in the Sooner State during the 1920s.
You don’t need the KKK to be a racist jerk
While the KKK’s brand of outright hatred and flamboyant imagery seems relegated to the fringes of society’s most ignorant fringe, modern-day racism no longer needs a unifying front or group.
For example, in June, a group of misguided citizens greeted President Obama on his visit to Oklahoma with the Confederate battle flag.
In March, fallout from the viral video of a racist chant brought down the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity’s OU chapter. Across the country, SAEs at Yale University recently came under fire for allegedly telling a group of dark-skinned students who tried to attend their Halloween party: “No, we’re only looking for white girls.”
In August 2014, a GOP fundraiser in Garvin County promised “great fun and fellowship” along with “some things that you may not know about the NRA, Planned Parenthood, Ku Klux Klan and other organizations.” Although Gov. Mary Fallin was invited, she declined the invitation and distanced herself from any involvement. Also featured on the flyer, which was promoting a bean-feed event, was clip art of a cartoon pinto bean wearing a sombrero and dancing.
So, with the Klan or without the Klan, race relations still have a long way to go in this country. If nothing else, the Anonymous posting could and should encourage us to take a stand for racial equality and fight against race-based prejudices, wherever they exist.